Dear Girl Scout Family,
The sadness we feel is indescribable, as our community suffers a senseless tragedy. My condolences continue to be with the Waukesha community and all those affected by Sunday’s tragic event. I am grateful to share that all Girl Scouts participating with the Council at the Waukesha Christmas Parade have been accounted for and are safe.
Like many of you, as a parent, I understand how scary and overwhelming it may be to process the events from Sunday and to explain this tragedy to our kids and loved ones. Please give yourself grace and extend empathy to others, knowing that the Girl Scout community is here to support you.
As I try to make sense of this horrific event, I am reminded and guided by the Girl Scout Promise and Law – which so many people embodied during and after Sunday’s events. Girl Scout staff and volunteers were courageous and strong as they acted quickly to protect our Girl Scouts, and first responders and good Samaritans were helpful and caring as they immediately took action to help those in need. Despite everything that happened, our members, families, and volunteers continue to demonstrate our Promise and Law: to help people at all times. As Girl Scouts, we know the importance of having open and honest conversations about issues that impact us all, and we know that having a network of support – like what we offer in our Girl Scout sisterhood – can be healing for all involved. Thank you for your continued care and commitment to our community, and for the many ways you have offered your support to us and to one another.
Let us all continue to lead with courage, confidence, and character during this difficult time. We can rely on these very three words to help guide us through the next few days and weeks.
If you are seeking guidance, we hope the following resources can be of use:
- If you are experiencing emotional distress related to this horrific incident, call or text the SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 to be connected to a trained, caring counselor- 24/7. Multilingual services are available.
- Consider participating in service projects with your troop or family, such as writing letters of support or holiday cards to local first responders or local health care facilities, holding or participating in a vigil, painting kindness rocks and placing them in your community, and/or purchasing a small toy to donate to a local holiday toy drive in remembrance of those affected by this tragedy.
For child-centered grief and trauma resources:
- The National School Crisis Center has resources for supporting youth and opening conversations, like Talking to children about tragedies
- The National Alliance for Children's Grief (NACG) offers videos and an FAQ section aimed at understanding grief in children and helping caring adults guide them through loss. The “ Hero Toolkit” offers activities for talking about grief with children and teens.
- The National Child Traumatic
Stress Network has many resources on grief and
trauma for helping adults talk to children about violent events
- Tip Sheet on Coping After Mass Violence: provides common reactions children and families may be experiencing after a mass violence event and what they can do to take care of themselves.
- Guidance for parents for helping youth after mass violence: Offers parents guidance on helping their children after a mass violence event. This fact sheet describes common reactions children may have, how parents can help them, and self-care tips after a violent event.
- Helping teens with traumatic grief: Describes how teens may feel when struggling with the death of someone close and offers tips on what caregivers can do to help.
- After a Crisis: Offers tips to parents on how to help young children, toddlers, and preschoolers heal after a traumatic event.
- Guiding Adults in Talking to Children: Provides ways to navigate children’s questions about death, funerals, and memorials. This fact sheet includes sample Q&A to help guide discussions.
- Tip Sheet for Teens on Coping after Violence
- GSUSA Girl Scout Raising Awesome Girls content: It's Okay to Not be Okay and When Violence on the News Shakes Her World
For mental health crises:
- Call 911
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org for online emotional support
- The Crisis Text Line connects you to a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message: Text NAMI to 741741
- The Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24/7 national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling (more info at National Institute of Mental Health ): Dial 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor
- For families and troops seeking mental health care services:
Yours in Girl Scouting,
Christy L. Brown, JD
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast